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    A Portuguese Jew living in Holland, Spinoza was excommunicated because of the unorthodox view he took of God. Spinoza wrote in the rationalist style of a geometric proof to develop his idea of God as the infinite, indwelling cause of all things, a unified causal system that is virtually synonymous with nature.

    In this system, there is no free will, for all things are necessary and inevitable, and all objects, including humans, are part of God's active self-expression. Our minds can participate in the eternity of God by focusing on natural laws and the way all things follow from God or nature. Human fulfillment is possible, he believed, only by rejecting our finite, flawed selves and identifying with the eternal within us. Spinoza believed that by doing so we can love God with an immediate devotion without asking anything in return.

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    ©1990 Carmichael & Carmichael, Inc. and Knowledge Products (P)1990 Carmichael & Carmichael, Inc. and Knowledge Products

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